45th NLSC Was … the Biggest and the Best
What were the students saying about this conference? “I’m so excited. I love it. It’s huge.” “I wouldn’t change a thing.” “It’s hot, but what can you do?” “I’ve met so many new people and I’m growing as a person.” “Everyone here is all pumped.” Here’s the fun part, you can see and hear these students for yourself. For the first time ever, the opening ceremonies and the awards session went out on streaming video and now both are archived and available online.
This was definitely one for the record books. With the effects of the economy on so many things, including local and state education budgets, I’ll admit I was a little uncertain that the conference registration and contestant numbers would hold at their record pace but they did. This was our biggest conference in history.
Nearly all the reactions I’ve received in phone calls and e-mails from members, state directors, sponsors, VIPs, exhibitors, technical committees and moms and dads have been positive. Just as the student said, if there were one thing I wish I could have changed to make this conference better, it would have been turning the temperature down at least 10 degrees.
Here are just a few of the highlights. There’s no way I can cover everything:
- Attendance was approximately 15,000 with 9,335 registrants and 5,346 contestants.
- We had over 300 VIP visitors. In fact, we’re getting so many VIPs that we need to take a look at board and YDF assignments in the future so we can handle them all appropriately.
- Announcement of the largest, single-year corporate donation in our history for $1.5 million from Lowe’s. And, that wasn’t the only donation. Air Products presented us with a check for $50,000 for alumni initiatives. Carrier presented us with a check for $11,000 and intelitek’s in-kind donation of student gifts totaled $121,000.
- This was the year of corporate giving to our students. Great give-aways from Lowe’s, Irwin, and the U.S. Army were highlights. Student gifts, scholarships and competitor prizes equaled more than $1 million in value.
- SkillsUSA Literature Service sales on site were nearly $12,000 and that’s $7,000 more than last year.
- TECHSPO participation was down as I’ve mentioned before but there were 27 new exhibitors and billing is at $314,000.
- We had the highest enrollment ever for Officer 101/201 with 196 students and instructors.
- The live streaming video — produced in cooperation with School Video News, SchoolTube and Bartha — had 3,047 computers tuned in to the opening ceremony with 6,635 total hits. On awards night, there were 4,846 computers tuned in and 13,300 total hits. It’ll be even better next year. To view the videos just link to www.skillsusa.org/events/nlscvideo.shtml.
Of course, the way we keep growing this conference is to take a look at what we’ve done right and where we can improve. We held a brief staff meeting on July 7 for a quick review. A more in-depth post-conference staff meeting will be held on July 20 and we’re also doing an online survey of state association directors and other stakeholders. In the main, staff felt we did well this time around. One thing is clear to me: we need to add or reconfigure staffing to meet our growing needs at conference.
There’s much more to cover but it will have to wait for later. Thanks go to our state association directors, corporate members and to our leadership on the board and on the YDF for making this a conference for the record books.